On Friday morning our Leadership Forum met in Kirriemuir Town Hall for a few hours. This is the 100+ most senior managers in the council. We meet quarterly. I was particularly interested in a discussion around the theme of leadership in in one of the 4 breakout sessions. We have established a value structure for our organisation, the question is how to ensure that these are lived and experienced by all. Colleagues certainly seemed to agree with and recognise the values, but there is a clear message that we have yet to reach all parts of the organisation, or benefit all teams and colleagues in their delivery.
Reversion to command and control culture seemed to be the nub of the problem. I wonder if that is a product of the stresses and strains of the major change programmes ongoing in our organisation, budget contractions and so on. Or is it a symptom seen when colleagues in leadership and management roles feel a lack of confidence in the agenda, unable to answer colleagues questions, or personally uncomfortable with what they are being tasked to do? If the latter factors prevail then we need to do more to address them and support our leaders in leading. Do more to lift any perceived veil over our transformation objectives and processes, and be totally honest with ourselves about the extent of the challenges we face in relation to both the changes, the motivations behind them and things we need to embrace in the balancing of our budgets. We all must share the belief that we can be not only a high performing organisation, but also one that is affordable for our citizens. That these things are not incompatible.
I was encouraged that in the feedback from the last session that kicked the morning off it was said that the Forum must not be focussed on the “world according to EMT” (Exec Management Team). This is brilliant. It means that colleagues feel that they can question and challenge and have a dialogue with the council’s most senior staff – Chief Executive included. It is a clear indicator that within the Forum our values are beginning to be lived.
Our leadership values must be about real things and not just words. Driving to the Forum I caught Radio 4’s “Thought for the Day”. It started with an observation about the words often attributed to St Francis when speaking to his followers. “Go forth and preach the gospel – use words if you have to”.